Event—Adult Education

Representing the Mafia: Italian Mafia in Cinema, Television, and the Media


Explore representations of the Mafia in Italy through literature, film, and television in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Scene from the film adaptation of "The Day of the Owl" (1968). Rosa Nicolosi and her daughter are going to see one of the mafia bosses to get news of her missing husband. Source: Manolos84, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Class Description

From its local origins in Sicily, the Mafia has become a global phenomenon and a widespread model of organized crime that threatens and corrupts international economy, political systems, and social environments. Yet films, television, and literature reveal a continued fascination with the Mafia, often portrayed with romantic and even heroic connotations.

In this class, we will explore representations of the Mafia in Italy through literature, film, and television in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The selection of novels, films, testimonies, and TV series will explore many aspects of the Mafia: its ethics; its relation to politics, religion, and business; and its ideas of friendship, family, masculinity, and femininity. The class will challenge clichés about the Mafia and offer insights on Italian cultural identity.

Maria Sepa, PhD Italian Literature, Brown University, has taught Italian literature at the University of Virginia, Wellesley College, Brown University, and Brown University in Bologna, and currently teaches at IES Milan and Cattolica University in Milan.

Materials List

  • Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard. Pantheon, 2013. ISBN: 0375714790
  • Leonardo Sciascia, The Day of the Owl. NYRB Classics, 2003. ISBN: 9781590170618
  • Roberto Saviano, Gomorrah. Picador, 2008. ISBN: 9780312427795

First Reading

  • No first reading assignment

Cost and Registration

Six sessions, $247 ($220.50 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.


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